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It’s been a ride of ups and downs for the wiggle man and past Celtics star, but Antoine Walker’s journey in the NBA seems to continue on…for now. His latest setback was a recent arrest on suspicion of drunk driving.
In case you are new to the world of Boston sports, Antoine Walker was a star during the Celtics rebuilding years in both the Rick Pitino and Jim O’Brien administrations. Walker served as the team’s captain for a few season and was a leading scorer as well.
The 6th draft pick in the 1996 NBA draft, Walker was a fan favorite all around Boston and when he combined with Paul Pierce, the two were almost unstoppable and deemed “The Dynamic Duo.” Walker was an all-star three times and was even named to the East’s starting five in 2002, the same year he and Pierce brought the Celtics back to the playoffs and even to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Just before the start of the 2003-04 season, Walker was traded to the Dallas Mavericks but was rarely used due to Dallas’ very talented roster. Walker did alright that year by finishing the season averaging 14.0 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game. This was the first time Walker finished a season averaging less than 20 points per game since the 1998-99 season.
During the offseason before the 2004-05 season, Walker, along with other former Celtics guard Tony Delk, was traded to the Atlanta Hawks. Walker played well for the Hawks in 53 games and averaged 20.4 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game. However, Walker was about to be reunited with his old Boston friends. In February of 2005 Walker was traded back to Boston in a deal that sent Atlanta Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart, and a first round draft pick. The Celtics lucked out though and got Payton back after the Hawks quickly released him.
Walker came back to the Celtics and wore No. 88 after rookie Al Jefferson was already wearing No. 8. Jefferson later gave No. 8 back to Walker as he switched to No. 7. Walker played 24 games for Boston and finished the season with them averaging 16.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He helped the Celtics return to the playoffs once again.
In the 2005-06 season Walker was involved in a 13-player, five-team deal that sent him to the Miami Heat. Walker had the worst performance year of his career to this point, by only finishing with 12.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. However, Walker did win his first NBA Championship with the Heat that year. Walker remained with the Heat for the 2006-07 season, but his numbers continued to decline. He finished that year scoring only 8.5 points and only grabbing 4.3 rebounds per game.
In the 2007-08 season, Walker played for the Minnesota Timberwolves after a trade from the Heat, and his frustration continued. Walker’s numbers still declined even more as he finished the season only averaging 8.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. He also only played in 46 games and was left as a bench player on a horrible team. Walker begged the T-Wolves to buy out his contract, but he remained there throughout the rest of the season.
Antoine made yet another stop in his journey throughout the NBA after the leaving the Celtics. On the Draft Night 2008, Walker was sent from Minnesota to the Memphis Grizzlies along with Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner, and the rights to O.J. Mayo in exchange for Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins, and the rights to Kevin Love.
Walker was later released by the Grizzlies and is now an NBA free agent. While he still has talent and is capable of playing, the arrest certainly hurt his chances of being picked up this season.
Walker had always been a favorite in Boston during his years with the Celtics. He even appeared at the Garden during the NBA Finals to cheer on his former team (or at least I hope that’s what he was there for). Is Antoine missed in Boston? I am sure to some degree he is, but I do not think any Celtics fan has their eye on Walker hoping that he gets re-signed. The team is good enough without him, which they proved last year with the championship. However, I am sure anyone would not mind seeing that wiggle after an exciting “Toine” play once more.